On holiday in Turkey with my boyfriend Tom recently, I insisted we go on a day trip to see one of the Seventh wonders of the world. I mean, I argued, how often do we get a chance to see one of the Seven Wonders? There are only 7! Just 7! In the whole world!
So we travelled in a mini bus with a dementedly cheery tour guide who would say things like, “and to your left, you can see a traditional Turkish bush!”
Finally we arrived at the Great Temple of Artemis, a Seventh wonder of the world. As we got off the bus two old and grey dogs limped up to greet us followed by a depressed-looking man playing a recorder. The tour guide skipped out, “And here is the 7th wonder of the world! She announced, directing our gaze towards a swamp.
The Great Temple of Artemis is now a not-so-great pillar in a swamp with a nest and a heron on top. Our tour guide, half-crazed with excitement (or despair, I couldn’t tell) announced we had, “half an hour!” To which everyone looked bemused at what we supposed to do other than look sadly at the Heron and his pillar.
It turned out we could waste some minutes trying to dodge a persistent and desperate postcard seller who would trail after everyone holding up his cards like a battering ram. Tom and I sought refuge back in the bus but he found us, staring at us mournfully from the other side of the window. I shrugged and smiled and shook my head, to which he responded by pointing meaningfully at his cards, then back at me. When this failed, he got out some coins, pointed at them, and then back at the cards. Presumably he was hoping I’d suddenly go, “ohhh! You mean I can BUY THOSE POSTCARDS?!” and leap out of my seat, run out the bus with a cry of, “sold!” and purchase the whole lot.
Our tour guide then announced we were going to a “Traditional Turkish Gold Centre!” which turned out to be a glorified jewellery shop. At this point Tom was getting very agitated and was no doubt imagining being back at the Hotel reading his thriller and dealing with imaginary fears rather than the very real threat of unhinged tour guides. Instead we went to a “Turkish Mosque!” (remarkably unremarkable)and a shop that sold, “traditional Turkish plates!” Then the tour guide dropped us back at our hotel and went away, presumably to go weep and howl in the depths of a dark, “traditional Turkish” forest somewhere at the futility of life.
So my advice would be, going to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World is all well and good, but check the small print. If it’s one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World it could be less of a wonder and more of a whimper. But at least you might get a few postcards out of it.